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bands/musicians All Time Best Rock Guitar Players

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I have never played guitar. But I have listened to as much of it as any man my age, or at least any non-Guitar Center employee my age.

The common thread: just about everyone on this list has a totally recognizable, distinct sound. While all of them are incredibly talented, I am less biased towards technical virtuosity than uniqueness and feel (though I grew up on virtuoso hard rock guitarists, to be sure). Have uploaded a few videos (an insanely easy task on Ranker, thanks Paul), and will continue to add more.

While the majority of rocks's greatest guitarists came out of the classic rock era, it has been encouraging to see some new entries from recent years after a "guitar hero lull" in the 90s.Note that I am punishing some of my favorite guitar bands from sending representatives to this list - namely bands with 2 guitarists, particularly "dual leads" (except for Angus), though if the sum was equal to the parts bands like Maiden and Priest would be on here - at some point I will do an "addendum list" that adds guitar teams to the mix. It's the fair thing to do.

1
Jimmy Page is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Jimmy Page Blues-rock, Folk rock, Heavy metal - The Master. Literally didn't play a weak note on record for the entire Led Zeppelin run. Went through a pretty dull period in the 80s but live (and sporadically in the studio) has returned to form in his latter years.

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2
Jerry Garcia is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Jerry Garcia Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock - Never a more soulful player than Jerry.

3
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Jimi Hendrix Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock - If he had lived a longer life, I am almost positive he would have been my #1.

4
David Gilmour is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock - Over the years my appreciation of Mr David Gilmour just seems to grow and grow, so he's gotta go above Blackmore. Plus I am totally uninterested in Blackmore's Night, so I probably punish Ritchie a bit there.

5
Eddie Van Halen is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Eddie Van Halen Popular music, Pop music, Rock music - Come back, Eddie, come back!

6
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Ritchie Blackmore Rock music, Heavy metal, Neo-Medieval music - I had a picture of Blackmore in my locker in high school. Monster player and showman - who cares if he was sloppy live at times, in my book that was what made him so exciting.

7
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge - Technically, nowhere near the equal of any of my top 20 or so. But Neil almost created the guitar sound that was grunge, and for pure unique feedback stoner crunch nothing beats electric Neil.

8
Tony Iommi is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Tony Iommi Doom metal, Blues-rock, Heavy metal - Though not as flashy as Page or Blackmore, Iommi wrote an equal amount of monster riffs, and singlehandedly invented the heavier side of Metal.

9
Trey Anastasio Band is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Trey Anastasio Band THE monster player of his generation - and perhaps the most diverse rock guitar hero of all time.

10
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music - Part of me is shocked Knopfler made my Top 10 and I have a feeling I'm forgetting someone major, but the man is an absolute master of his craft and while not playing Dire Straits - level awesomeness, he's putting out some decent solo ...

11
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Michael Schenker Heavy metal, Hard rock - Wow. Schenker would rank even higher if he had lasted longer in his prime before going off into whack-job land.

12
Duane Allman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Duane Allman Blues-rock, Rock music, Jazz fusion

13
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Jack White Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

14
Keith Richards is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Keith Richards Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae - Second only to Hendrix (with Page a close third) in "coolest looking guitarist" rankings.

15
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae - Although these days he tends to use no more than 50% of his God-given talent (often less), that doesn't mean he's lost it all - and his record in the 60s and 70s speaks for itself.

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16
The Edge is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
The Edge Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

17
Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Stevie Ray Vaughan Blues-rock, Rock music, Instrumental rock

18
Tom Morello is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Tom Morello Rock music, Acoustic music, Heavy metal - By far the most original player of the alt-rock era. You've heard his playing in RATM of course, but check out this video of Morello absolutely shredding guesting with The Boss at a concert I was lucky to have attended.

19
Warren Haynes is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Warren Haynes Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

20
Randy Rhoads is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Randy Rhoads Glam metal, Heavy metal, Neo-classical metal

21
Uli Jon Roth is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Uli Jon Roth Heavy metal, Neo-classical metal, Psychedelic rock - The most underexposed Guitar God of alltime.

22
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Derek Trucks Blues-rock, Blue-eyed soul, Rock music - Check out this version of Derek and the Domines "Anyday" that Trucks and his wife do (with sick vocals from the singer of the Trucks band who I'm not always a huge fan of)

23
Buck Dharma is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Buck Dharma Heavy metal, Hard rock

24
Omar Rodríguez-López is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Omar Rodríguez-López Rock music, Electronic music, Jazz fusion - Leader of the Mars Volta. A spectacularly talented and innovative player.

25
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Sonny Sharrock Jazz - Ask The Ages is one of my top 3 alltime instrumental albums.

26
Jeff Beck is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Jeff Beck Blues-rock, Rock music, Instrumental rock - Pure guitar-talent wise, he'd be in my Top 5 for sure - nobody sounds like Jeff Beck. But he just hasn't played on enough absolute classic songs to earn top honors in my book.

27
Doug Martsch is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Doug Martsch BTS are a guitar band for the ages

28
Angus Young is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Angus Young Blues-rock, Rock music, Heavy metal

29
J Mascis is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
J Mascis Doom metal, Noise rock, Folk rock - Incredibly underrated rocker. I never tire hearing J play the guitar.

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30
Slash is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Slash Glam metal, Blues-rock, Heavy metal - aka Slash. In my 20s I would have had you in the Top 10.

31
Richard Thompson is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Richard Thompson Rock music, Folk music, Electric folk - Richard Thompson above Rory Gallagher? This was a tough call, as pound for pound guitar consistency wise, I'd have to give it to the late great Rory (incidentally the first name rock band I ever saw live, opening for Rush). But ...

32
Rory Gallagher is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Rory Gallagher Skiffle, Blues-rock, Classic rock - If you like hard rock guitar with a slight blues and boogie edge, you MUST pick up Stage Struck, an absolute killer live album from the most hard rock era of Rory's prolific career.

33
Bob Mould is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Bob Mould Power pop, Alternative rock, Punk rock - Sheets of sound with one guitar. Nobody sounds like Mould.

34
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

35
Alex Lifeson is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Alex Lifeson Heavy metal, Progressive rock, Hard rock - A late addition to this list - an oversight that I tend to make when it comes to rating Lifeson as a guitar hero, probably due to the monster-level talent of his bandmates on their particular cudgels. Sorry, Alex. The man who wrote ...

36
Pete Townshend is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

37
John Frusciante is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
John Frusciante Rock music, Electronic dance music, Protopunk - Very saddened that he has left the Chili Peppers

38
Joe Satriani is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Joe Satriani Rock music, Instrumental rock, Heavy metal

39
Kurt Cobain is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Kurt Cobain Grunge, Alternative rock, Punk rock - while you totally don't think of Cobain as a guitar hero, and my gut is to not consider him on this list, KC wrote some absolutely sick riffs and had a truly unique sound.

40
Prince is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Prince Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

41
Gary Moore is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Gary Moore Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

42
Robin Trower is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Robin Trower Blues-rock, Rock music, Blues

43
Kirk Hammett is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Kirk Hammett Thrash metal, Heavy metal, Speed metal

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44
Carlos Santana is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Carlos Santana Blues-rock, Chicano rock, Pop music - Honestly, not a fan of much of his music (I just don't have an affinity for Latin music in general), but no question his guitar playing soars into another dimension.

45
Billy Gibbons is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Billy Gibbons Blues-rock, Pop music, Boogie rock

46
Kevin Shields is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Kevin Shields Shoegazing, Alternative rock, Noise pop

47
John McLaughlin is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
John McLaughlin Kozmigroov, Rock music, World music

48
Al Di Meola is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Al Di Meola Chicano rock, Rock music, Instrumental rock - In high school I used to satisfy my cultured side by cranking Tour De Force Live at top volume - I wasn't ALL about heavy metal. jazz, man. That was a long time ago. But I still pull that record out once a year or so, and play it ...

49
Ace Frehley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Ace Frehley Glam metal, Heavy metal, Glam rock

50
Stuart Braithwaite is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list All Time Best Rock Guitar Players
Stuart Braithwaite Instrumental rock, Alternative rock, Post-rock